Saint Shenanigans


I was born a Protestant. I will more than likely die one, too. Intense excavation into family history has shown me that my genes are Protestant for at least 8 generations on both sides. Baptised and confirmed a Lutheran, I was taught a thing or two about the most successful (not the first) split from the Catholic Church by Martin Luther.

During public school mandated “religious education”, I was taught by the local Catholic Priest. He seemed nice enough; kindly taking us through the New Testament book Romans. It took many years for me to realise that this was an attempt at turning me from my heretic ways to the true canon. If I recall, he didn’t even use the Revised Standard Version of the Bible. Yes, Peter and Paul: the fathers of the catholic church.

After travelling to Europe in 1997 and 2004, I saw enough Saints’ relics: shrunken heads, fingers, toenails and shrouds to last me a lifetime. Large cathedrals raised in the name of the Virgin or some Saint across the cities of Europe show the folly of man, attempting to reach for terrestrial god status. The veneration of Saints and other popery not only rubs me the wrong way: I am sure my ancestors turn in their collective graves.

So as Mary MacKillop has moved through the man-made process of canonisation within the Catholic Church, my genes quiver.

We hear that the church wants old and young to travel to Rome to witness the canonisation ceremony. That will fill the coffers of the Romans.

I also heard many discussions on the “brand” of Mary MacKillop being valuable. Like a product. Even our ABC both on radio and TV seems to have caught the “Mary MacKillop” fever. So much for editorial independence.

And that is exactly what this canonisation is about. Money. Never get in the way of a large corporation and money.

Luckily the Catholics re-admitted her to the church. Otherwise they would have missed out on their cash.

This tradition and hunger for money is not new. Sainthood and pilgrimages have created many a city in the world as supplicant masses crawl on their knees to assuage their mortal sins. Paying money for Indulgences, as done in the Middle Ages, and more recently with special visits to random virgin sightings.

Don’t get me wrong: I am not anti-personal faith.

But please separate Mammon from Mary. She was, and I highlight was, just a notable Australian woman who did more for the downtrodden than any group of Cardinals, Abbotts or Bishops ever did. And I would argue, ever will.

Speed, Quality, Cheap. Pick any Two.

The Hon. Peter Garrett, member of Midnight Oil and member for Kingsford-Smith is presently under-the-gun over the management of the Energy Efficient Homes Package.

It seems out of the old adage: speed, quality, cheap: pick any two that the department chose just speed.

From ABC1’s Q & A last night, members of both sides of the house marked Peter Garrett as an honourable and a decent man. His experience leading environmental lobby groups, and leading a successful band shows he can manage people. But Management in a Ministerial sense is way more complex.

Evidently, his department commissioned a legal risk assessment of the program in February 2009. This document was not seen by Mr. Garrett until early this year.

My speculation is:

  • Mr. Rudd & Mr. Swan design a large program to inject money into the economy in light of the Global Financial Crisis. Getting this cash into the economy quickly is paramount.
  • Based on a program created by the previous Government, it was seen as an easy mechanism to gain green credentials and inject fiscal stimulus.
  • Someone in the Department engages an external party to detail any risks. In large projects, there are always risks. Mitigating risk is a part of sound project management. Not all problems can be solved nor foreseen: but those that are foreseen must be managed.
  • Remember: timing is everything. Speed, speed, speed. The Department cannot wait months to create a viable infrastructure to manage all the risks, and as political pressure is on to spread the money out: nothing gets in the way of speed.
  • Conversations between Ministers is all positive and about the velocity of the program;
  • the Department keeps their risk assessment information to lower levels, in an effort to protect their Minister, the program and potentially their job.
  • The Minister doesn’t want to hear or see bad news: even worse, pass this up the chain to the notorious micro manager Rudd.

The causes for this breakdown potentially are:

  • An environment where negatives and risks are seen as bad PR. Bad messaging for the nightly news
  • An environment where speed is critical. Now, now now rather than considered policy execution
  • An environment where people fear raising bad news

Just “firing” the Minister is not going to solve the problem. Although Mr Rudd will probably reach a point where he jettisons Mr Garrett. That will be sad.

It is not the Apple Tablet, it is the Store

The recent escalation of rumours surrounding the so-called Apple Tablet / Slate / Big iPhone / xxx (where xxx is a super cool Apple-ish name) seem to focus on the hardware. The gadgetry. The hardware specs.

I am a little over gadgetry. Every week there is a new phone, device or somesuch that junks the old technology. Surely this is neither ethical nor sustainable?

But that is not where the innovation, nor the future lies for Apple. Recent Apple acquisitions, investments and successes leads me to conclude that Apple and Google are about to square off. Not in search. Search is rather boring and a commodity.

In the forthcoming weeks, ignore the hardware. Hardware is dime-a-dozen, and many vendors are going to release slate like gadgetry in a similar form factor. Rather, watch what Apple does with their iTunes / App store. Presently this system provides music, tv, movies and with the advent of the iPhone – Apps.

The next department for the store are newspapers, magazines and books. Either sold as subscription, or with embedded advertising. Just wait.

The revenue model will appeal to the traditional mainstream media – so expect a continuing avalanche of obsequious and self-serving coverage. Not of the store – but rather the hardware. Embedded within these stories will be the expectation of a holy grail. The holy grail of the future of print media, without paper.

Somehow, I doubt it.

What does Transparency mean to me?

I mulled long and hard over the content of this post over on A discussion with a few people, and reading to through with Jorke cleared my mind a little.

Should I reveal we had a medium size hiccup in the first day of netbook handout at TechEd? C’mon, corporations don’t make errors. Well, they sorta do – but never admit it. Problems are couched in corporate speak. All is well. Look over here.

My personal concept of transparency and honesty is telling it like it is. Whilst I don’t state the actual number of machines needing re-imaging: we have yet to get more data tomorrow to be more factual: telling the story as it is, warts and all, is critical. It’s closer to home here as I am responsible for the Netbooks. In retrospect, I feel I should have thought of the human factors when in production-line mode. Also, increasing the Q&A rate considering the tightness of the handout: I should have thought of that, too.

I’d like to put a big thanks out to Jorke who implemented We really hope that you guys in IT get something out of this transparency.

Sometimes it’s painful to admit your mistakes and say sorry. Thankfully, I work in an organisation that respects the need for this level of honesty. And a great team of people who are pulling to make it right for customers.

The long search for the perfect WPF Twitter Client. Over.

Twitter; Facebook and friends is the place where I spend most of my day. For work and play.

Separating work and play is difficult in single-column twitter clients. Enter mutliple columns, filtering as base requirements for my perfect twitter client.

Stuck in closed-source TweetDeck; or moving through a myriad of AIR based applications. Subjecting myself to unknown security issues, slow performance – and no ability to contribute – has frustrated me no end.

Then @aeoth create MahTweets. It’s MS-PL. It’s extensible (via MEF). It has IronRuby for scriptable extensibility.

It is awesome.

Use it. Contribute. Let’s make the world’s best WPF Twitter Client.

Sanity Prevails

The FOSS community has been concerned about the difficulties, pros and cons of including Mono-built applications as a part of standard Linux builds. Both Pro and Con.

Most recently, the Ubuntu Technical Board posted to their Ubuntu Developer Announce mailing list their extermely pragmatic position on Mono applications.

Today Microsoft extended the Community Promise to the two underlying ECMA (and subsequent ISO) standards that cover the CLI and C#. These promises had already covered other EMCA standards such as OpenXML, so it was quite logical that the CLI and C# would follow. Well, in a sane universe anyway.

As the Mono project (and Moonlight) are based on these standards, the Community Promise would logically extend to these environments.

Hopefully now we can all just build cool software, not argue about licenses, patents and other distractions. Now let’s fix Outlook’s HTML rendering!. 🙂

(Thanks to John BouAntoun for the original link, Peter Galli for the original blog post, and Microsoft for doing the right thing.)

28 Weeks. 18 Weeks Down


18 Weeks

18 weeks and 735 emails ago, Gianpaolo green-lighted my involvement on an Andrew Coates flight of fancy: What if we gave every paid delegate of TechEd a Netbook running Windows 7? Ideas are easy, implementation is hard.

By involvement read “Project Management”. And, oh what a wonderful ride it has been.

18 weeks of discussions, negotiations and thought. Wrapping your mind around all the side, non-technical implications has taken the last 18 weeks to contract signature.

People management, Finance policy, legal agreements, terms+conditions, understanding internal policies. The funny thing is that I’ve done all this before during the last 3 years of my Adobe sales management life. The internal Microsoft “stuff” was just my previous Adobe experience, with a different consequence.

Big thanks to Jorke Odolphi for being my sounding board. A calm shoulder to cry on. And thinking of things I didn’t anticipate. Thanks, Jorke!

What is new is the Project Management aspect. Technical Integration is going to be relatively easy: 2000+ high quality Netbooks with Windows 7 is a doddle. Jeff Alexander is taking point on the image build. David Haysom and David Connors are the logistics and install team leads.

Project Management not so much of a doddle. David Haysom will assist here. Right, David?

10 Weeks

The funnest part of this project begins now: one aspect is the logistics of getting 58 palettes of Netbooks loaded for the TechEd delegates.

The other major aspect is what happens with the Netbooks. Here, it’s the Microsoft community aspect: what can we do, as a Microsoft community?